My original training plan called for three 20+ mile runs prior to Chicago but I think I'm only going to do two with the other being shortened to 18. That's just the way it's working out.
Yesterday was the first 20 miler and it went pretty good.
You'll recall that after my 18 miler nearly two weeks ago, I was a little down on myself for taking it a little lightly and struggling through the run. This time I prepared a bit better. I took in a good, high energy breakfast, stretched properly, and "psyched" myself up for the longer distance. With more attention to the pre-run preparation, the 20 miles went a lot smoother. I learned a good lesson which I'll benefit from going forward. You can't cut corners when taking on a run of this distance.
I'm also trying to teach myself to run slower at the beginning and fall into a slightly quicker pace after a couple mile warm-up. I've been busting out of the gate at marathon pace on every run lately. This is a bad habit I've developed and I'm trying hard to correct.
More than the previous two marathons, I've also noticed that it is taking me longer to get warmed up. Previously, I could fall into a run after just a 1/2 mile of warm up. Now, it seems like it takes 5-6 miles before my legs loosen up, heart rate stabilizes, and I'm feeling really good about my stride. Perhaps my body has adjusted to expect longer miles now after a year plus of marathon training. Or am I just fatigued from too much running? Interesting. I'll have to monitor this as the weeks roll by.
I was planning to hit a couple 5k races next year. I'll be curious to see how this elongated time to warm-up plays into shorter race distances. Maybe I'll need to run a few miles before the 5k?